|Release Information ::
Jook came on like bastard sons of The Who and, if this first ever collection of the band's entire recorded works achieves anything, it should be to elevate the band from the Glitter Bin, and back to their rightful place as one of the greatest rock n’ roll acts ever.
Bio / History ::
It's taken three decades, but the last few years have seen pop archaeologists finally turn their attention to a phenomenon, that, for most of its makers’ lives, was treated as a joke at best, a bad lake at worst. It was called Glam Rock and, for anybody who knows which side of the musical divide to get up an every morning, it remains the biggest, shiniest and most scintillating monster that rock'n'roll has ever fathered.
Of course, nobody has ever doubted the importance of the giants of the genre — Bowie, Bolan, Slade, Chinn and Chapman. But what of the groups whose flicker was so brief that even their publicist barely noticed it — and let's face it, without publicity, even the best-looking glam bands were black cats in a coalmine
They, too are now poking their heads above the parapets, looking around from the pages of Record Collector (which first gave them the time of day in January 2002) and The Guardian (which followed suit later that same year), and reveling in the newly minted pastures of Junk Shop Glam — a self-explanatory term coined by Buzzcocks bassist Tony Barber, and Jesus & Mary Chain bassist Phil King, from their own penchant for rummaging through the dusty bins of junk shops, in search of the one-off diamonds that they knew were out there someplace.
Of all the Junk Shop Glam bands that caused a small blip on the radar screen of Glam, the most impressive and captivating sounds were delivered by a hard rocking quartet that never even considered themselves Glam: Jook. It was time and place that ushered them into the genre... that, and a role call of admirers that included impresario Mickie Most, label mates The Sweet, and a band that apparently shared the same tailor, the Bay City Rollers.
But still Jook came on like bastard sons of The Who and, if this first ever collection of the band's entire recorded works achieves anything, it should be to elevate the band from the Glitter Bin, and back to their rightful place as one of the greatest rock n’ roll acts ever.
Mention Jook to most people, and the immediate reference point is John's Children, the anarchic psych-mod hoodlums who terrorized the Who in Germany, and launched Marc Bolan on his way. Drummer Chris Townson, guitarist and manager John Hewlett spent time aboard that most archetypically 60s of bands.
In truth, however, Jook was really Kimmet’s Children, as they emerged the brainchild of Ian “Ralf” Kimmet, a Edinburgh born guitarist/songwriter who was then making his way forward as a record producer: he oversaw the then-unknown Mud’s 1969 single “Shangri-La” b/w “House on A Hill” and the following year, helmed two albums by Warhorse, the heavyweight act formed by Deep Purple bassist Nick Simper.
Ralf was working for the music publisher’s B Feldman & Co at the time; it was there that he came face to face with his future in Jook, when his bosses announced that another of their clients, Gallagher & Lyle, needed some office space for their manager. John Hewlett moved in a few days and later and recalls, “We had fun, got on really well and laughed hysterically – a lot!” Soon, another of John’s friends, Trevor White, was playing regular visits to the office and, by Christmas 1970, the genesis for Jook was fermenting.
Ralf initiated it. He’d been working at Feldman’s for three years now, and was bored with it. “I wanted to make my own music again and I was tired of dealing in everybody else’s.” Talking with John and Trevor fired his ambition even further. “What we all had in common was the view that rock was stagnant and it was definitely time for a fresh wind to sweep trough. We really saw it that way…all of us. We inspired each other in our collective rebellion against all the boring traditional social mores and rock bands of the time. Our attitude was to capture the public’s imagination a few years later with the advent of the whole punk movement. We pre-emted all of that.”
Early in 1971, Ralf and Trevor quit the comfort and regular wage packets of their respective jobs, to front their own band. John would become their manager. One of Ralf’s old Edinburgh friends, Ian Hampton, was invited along to play bass; the call, apparently, was so unexpected that he didn’t even own a bass at the time. “I was playing keyboards with Catch 22. I had to panic and go get myself an Ibanez or something.”
That September, with Edinburgh drummer Alan Pratt completing the line-up, the unnamed band decided to decamp to Oxnam, near Jedburgh in southeast Scotland to build a repertoire and rehearse – the relaxed atmosphere, combined with lower living expenses, would allow the band to work out the plot without any big city distractions. For six months, with families in tow and on their own money, the band refined their sound and direction, leaving John behind in London to tour the record companies and seek out a deal.
He settled on RCA, white-hot at the time with the Sweet, and hoping for big things from another recent signing, David Bowie. Ralf recalls, “we auditioned for Mike Everitt, RCA’s head of A&R at the time. He signed us that very day – 5,000 pounds, I believe, with guitars, amps, PA system and a van thrown in.” Despite this major leap forward, however, drummer Alan Pratt declined to make the move south – he owned a successful electrical business back home, and wanted to stick with it.
John promptly suggested Chris Townson for the vacancy. “As I recall, I had met with Ralf and Trev via a visit to Feldmans, just by chance, before they were off to Scotland to write some songs. I think we chatted for a while over a beer, and they agreed to contact me when they returned. Not sure whether it was John or Ralf… it may have even been Trev… who actually called me, but the audition was held at Barnet Rugby Club many months later. I remember playing through Gallagher & Lyle’s ‘City and Suburban Blues’ and ‘Alright With Me,’ but not much else. It was loud, rocking and enjoyable and my drumming seemed to fit with what they were doing as well as my drinking ability and general agreement with their world view.”
The band now had a drummer, a manager and a major label and all that was left was a name. Both Dusty and Indigo Jones were suggested and discarded, before the band was finally christened by Rob Dickins, the then-Managing Director for Warner Music, and a mutual friend of Ralf and John’s. Apparently he liked the play on words Jook Joint/Duke of Edinburgh, and the band had a name, Jook (“no ‘the’, just Jook, “insist all four band members.)
The band found a convenient rehearsal space right in the middle of the floor of the bar and function room at The Barnet Rugby Club, just down the road from Ralf and Chris’ flats. When the band was creatively stifled, they would down tools and play football at the club grounds. It was during one of these rehearsal gig breaks that Ian Hampton was christened “Hacker.” “I think I kicked more shins than balls during those games,” recalls Ian, Jook’s first single, “Alright With Me”/”Do What You Can,” was recorded during the summer of 1972 at Island Studios Number 2, with John and the band taking production credits and Chris Kimsey engineering. It hit the streets in October 1972, a solid debut featuring an almost psychedelic feedback wailing guitar break from Trevor.
“I think the guitar break on ‘Alright’ took up most of the time,” recollects Ralf, “To me, a successful Trevor guitar sound and solo was always of major importance to the finished tracks, and I for one was never adverse to spending time perfecting the instrumental ideas. The onus was always on Trevor to try and come-up with something fresh and unique for us on each song and, as I remember, we all spent time suggesting and encouraging him on the sessions.”
“Do What You Can,” with its nifty little Pete Townsend-like guitar solo, wasn’t in the Jook mould according to Ralf: “It was of the very first we wrote when we were still finding ‘a voice’ if you will. That song is very much in our Gallagher & Lyle infatuation period, but not really Jook.”
The single saw very little action, but any dismay the band might have felt was swallowed up by their schedule, driving the “Big O” (their orange band van) to weekend gigs all around the UK, supporting the likes of Wizzard, The Faces, Brinsley Schwarz and Genesis, while working up the next release and preparing to unveil a new image.
Gone was the long-haired look that they’d started with, to be replaced by Crombies, braces, Lonsdale boxing boots, and short hair, an über-Mod image that would define Jook. Post-Slade’s dalliance with all things Bovver Boy, it was not the most original look, but it was definitely an honest one, as Ralf remembers: “I suppose it was contrived in as much as we were all so different to look at, style-wise, on stage. Aesthetically, we needed a more uniform approach with short hair [courtesy of John Hewlett’s hairdresser girlfriend of the time] and boots at least. We were now a much more photogenic overall image. The music had pretty much evolved by then. I think we all enjoyed having a look.”
So did audiences. Landing a residency at London’s Edmonton Sundown, Jook gigs became a magnet for the north (and beyond) London skinhead army, and Ian Hampton still recalls the thrill of playing to a sold-out house of rabid Jook fanatics: “I guess we would thrash it out for between one and a half to two hours. It was a very sweaty experience! I think the [Sundown] capacity was around 700 – 800. We played there around once a month for around a year.” Splicing their own catalogue with their favourite covers – ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Blue Suede Shoes” (upgraded, of course, to blue suede boots) – Jook became renowned as one of the hardest-hitting live bands of the age. Their audience, on the other hand, was simply hard-hitting.
Fan and friend, Martin Gordon recalls Jook’s intimidating image: “At my school, the division was between long hair and skinhead, and I went for the former. But Jook always seemed to be nice, middle-class boys. I remember seeing their picture (boots and braces et al) and being rather nervous when I met them for the first time, but I soon caught on that their image was just that. But I had them pegged as ‘bovver boys’ rather than falling under the wheels of the glam bandwagon.”
There can be no doubt that the Bay City Rollers were also taking notice. Chris recalls a gig that was highlighted, at the end, by the hairy denizens of a passing Edinburgh band dropping by the dressing room to rave about “yon bonny image.” Weeks later, those same hairies were parading around on Top Of The Pops, clad in much the same turn-ups, braces and boots, and the only major difference was a lorry-loaf of tartan trim.
Ian Hampton laughs, “Ralf and I both knew Tam Paton, the Rollers’ manager, from the early 60s, when he was the leader, singer and keyboard player with an Edinburgh band called The Golden Crusaders, and I knew most of the [Rollers] from the Scottish circuit. I recall Tam and the band being blown away from Jook’s image. I met up with the boys several times later (during my Sparks days) and I never failed to remind them! I was paid back by Muff Winwood, who called Dinky Diamond and me at 9:00am one morning to say ‘Can you get back to Basing Street, NOW, to lay down a back track?’ But I’m saying no more on that subject. It doesn’t look good on the CV.”
Late in 1972, Jook entered Olympic Studios to work towards their follow-up single. The previously unreleased “That’s Fine” dates from this session, and is remarkable or the addition of a sax player, known only to the musicians as “The Colonel” – or, as Ralf recalls him, “a podgy, bespectacled boffin-like tweedy middle-class white Brit,” The song itself was one of the very first three songs that Ralf had written for the band, but all agreed that it simply wasn’t strong enough for release, and the band turned their attention to two covers, Jimmy Reed’s “Shame” and Gallagher & Lyle’s “City And Suburban Blues.”
This time, everything fell into place; from the moment the needle hits the groove, the record bursts with an adrenalin that transforms the familiar Jimmy Reed blues shuffle into a wile Who-like rave up. (Bryan Ferry totally copped the arrangement for his Extended Play EP in 1976.
Certainly it was as close as the group ever came to capturing their live sound in the studio, and Jook mythology insists that the recording was actually cut during a band rehearsal, and made it into the stores without the band’s knowledge or blessing. Ralf dismisses that tale as utter bollocks – which, according to another legend, is how Gallagher & Lyle viewed Jook’s version of their own “City and Suburban Blues,” that made it onto the b-side.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter. ‘Shame’ followed ‘Alright With Me’ into oblivion and suddenly the pressure to find that elusive hit single was beginning to make itself felt. The band’s own intended next single, “Everything I Do,” was left on the shelf; instead, RCA now demanded that they abandon their attempts at self-production, and recruit a proven hit-maker – Steve Rowland, overseer of sundry gems by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich. Ralf, too, responded with his most commercial song to date, “Oo Oo Rudi,” a call to arms anthem to all the other Rudies out there. (The group was allowed to keep control of the b-side, and came up with the Townson driven “Jook’s On You” instrumental, brilliantly titled by Trevor White.)
The partnership failed. Though the band recalls Steve as being very upbeat, and keen to help, he simply wasn’t suited to Jook. “Oo Oo Rudi” was released in July 1973, and sank on the spot; it would be several years before anybody discovered that some young ears were paying attention; the east Belfast punk band Rudi was formed in 1975, and named for the Jook single.
>Undeterred, RCA remained hell-bent on Jook scoring a Glam hit – a situation that all involved believe sounded the death knell for Jook. “Every recording session was a compromise,” sighs Ralf, recalling “the different producers designated by RCA and John Hewlett.” Hewlett himself believes that he should have taken a more active position in the studio with the producer duties, steering the band towards cutting an album in a Free/Bad Company style. Ralf, however, doubts whether that would have helped. “RCA knew that success was all in the singles game in the Top Of The Pops climate of those days, so there was really no recourse.” Instead, they sat back while RCA introduced yet another sure fire producer.
John Porter, hot from his work with Roxy Music, got the call to action for the next single, “King Capp” – titled for the band’s love of the comic strip hero Andy Capp. It was a worthy tribute, too; handclaps and Trevor’s memorable driving guitar riff were accompanied by some rollicking piano from Pete Wingfield but even that wasn’t enough to place a Jook 45 into the UK charts.
Next up was John Burgess, co-owner of AIR Studios (where the band’s next single was cut) and producer of Adam Faith, Freddy & The Dreamers, Manfred Mann and so forth – none of whom had actually scored a Glam hit of their own, but no matter. “Bish Bash Bosh” emerged the most commercial Jook single to date another solid encapsulation of the band’s live sound, backed by the almost-as-astonishing “Crazy Kids,” a Trevor White original that he would re-record a few years later, for his first solo single.
RCA were thrilled, advance word on the record strong. At least, it seemed, the stars had fallen into alignment, and stardom was beckoning. There was just one thing left to do – land Jook on a British tour that would grant them the most exposure they could dream of, alongside a band whose audience would be sure to adore them; the Sweet.
While persons unknown toured London spray painting “Jook Rool OK!” on buildings and post boxes the capital over, Jook’s confidence and enthusiasm knew no bounds. And then it was all snatched away again. Just days before the tour was set to launch, with Jook’s equipment already loaded into the tour truck, Sweet frontman Brian Connolly was involved in a street fight that left him hospitalised. The tour was cancelled and Jook were suddenly staring at an empty date sheet, on the eve of the release of their most important single yet.
“We scratched around looking for club gigs,” says Ralf, “but the summer season in the universities and clubs was set, and we were looking at very slim pickings.” Running on a slim subsistence and all with wives and families, the end of Jook was finally at hand. The band did return to the studio, booking into RG Jones Studio in Wimbledon to cut a clutch of new songs and, ironically, emerging with some of the best tracks they ever recorded.
Jook themselves knew that the end was nigh; maybe that’s why the new recordings sounded so strong. “Recording at RG Jones was enjoyable for me,” Ralf explains, “in that it felt similar to the relaxed feeling we had at the Barnet Rugby Club.” It is this material, incidentally, that gave rise to the rumour that a full Jook album was recorded, but never released by RCA – in fact, the label signed them as a singles-only act, and an album was never even discussed.
Trevor White selected one self-composed track from these sessions, the live favourite “Moving In The Right Direction,” as the b-side for his “Crazy Kids” revamp in 1976 – listen carefully however, and you will discover that things are not quite what they seem. Ian Hampton “We kept on ever so slowly speeding up, without Trevor being let in on the secret…check out the strain!”
Two years later, further treasures emerged from the vault as John Hewlett confirmed Jook’s ferocious proto-punk swagger by arranging for Chiswick (in the UK) and Bomb (US) to release an EP of four of these final recordings – albeit without the remainder of the band being aware of the fact.
The scene was set immediately, as Bobby Parker’s 1961 R&B chestnut “Watch Your Step” (previously released on the Chiswick and Bomp EP’s) kicks into play, a total rave-up that showcases what the boys would have sounded like on a hot night at the Edmonton Sundown. It was followed by the powerhouse mod power pop anthem “Aggravation Place,” “Everything I Do,” and “La La Girls,” and it seems impossible that neither Mike Everitt nor anyone else at RCA sussed their potential.
Yet these four tracks were simply the starter-course. Unreleased until now, the remainder of the RG Jones tape illustrates the sheer brilliance of Jook’s lost sessions.
Full of bovver boy attitude and power, “Different Class” (alongside “Moving In The Right Direction,” the last song the band ever recorded) sums up everything you need to know about Jook, while Chris Townson enthuses. “’Different Class’ was probably the closest Jook came to sounding like John’s Children, if Trevor had joined as intended rather than Herr Bolan.”
Another gem sees country singer Charlie Rich’s 1965 Mod anthem “Mohair Sam” revamped and given the full Jook workout, while “Cooch” (as in “Jook wanna cooch with you”) is titled, insists Ralf, from Scots slang for “cuddle-up,” although it has an infinitely more anatomical meaning elsewhere in the English-speaking world.
Jook were not all fast’n’furious, however. The tender and sweet “Hey Doll,” written for Ralf’s more than understanding wife, Helen [still very happily married], proved the Jook could pull off a bit of a different style with savvy.
But it was all to no avail. With no gigs on the horizon, it was clear that things had ground to a half. To make matters worse, Ralf continues, “it seemed as if John Hewlett was missing, lost in action with his new hit band, Sparks!” – the Mael brothers scored their first hit in spring 1974, at precisely the same time as Jook didn’t.
It is a charge that Hewlett accepts, albeit with qualifications. “RCA just did not want to release any more product. Mike Everitt had moved to a new position within the company and there was no one there to champion the band. I recall that money was tight, especially since all had families to provide for, and with no immediate prospect of investment, the band was tottering. Jook needed someone to produce them more in a little heavier vein. Chris Thomas would have been ideal.”
Ralf continues: “I seem to recall riding in a car with Ian, and intimating and I was ready to call it quits. Jook split due partly to my state of mind” – and partly due to the events in the Sparks camp. On the eve of their first UK tour, the Maels decide to sack bassist Martin Gordon; Hewlett immediately suggests they recruit both Trevor (as rhythm guitarist) and Ian Hampton in his stead. Even if Jook had wanted to continue, there would have been no way. Ralf explains, “I can recall Chris coming ‘round to my house to ask me if we two were to continue. I told him, no it’s over.”
Ralf did not make one last stab at earning Jook a fair hearing, when he teamed up with former Warhorse drummer Mac Poole and guitarist Keith “Smoke” Abbingdon, to record three of the old band’s songs, together with a clutch of new songs. Recorded in Mac’s flat, and released here for the first time, these demo versions show just how strong a vocalist and songwriter Ralf is. “Aggravation Place” is eloquently transformed into a rhythmic chug that highlights an entire new dimension to the band’s familiar powerpop rendition; and you will not be able to keep from breaking into wide grin when you hear Mac introduce Ian, and even provide the drone of fans as he breaks into the wonderful hook laden “Eveything I Do.”
RCA were apparently impressed that summer. Ralf was offered the chance to remain with the label as a solo artist – despite the Jook experience, RCA continued to believe in his songwriting abilities. He rejected it.
“I had one final meeting with John Hewlett at RCA after Jook split and they offered me a shot at a solo single. I turned them down, much to John’s surprise. I felt like I had earned some commitment and support from them, and another single did not really interest me. I stood outside the building with John after the meeting and he couldn’t find words, but I was free!”
He returned to the world of music publishing, eventually winding up as a manager of Bearsville Studios, where he has worked with everyone from The Band to REM.
Of his band mates, Hampton, departing Sparks after two years and two albums (Propaganda and Indiscreet) eventually left the professional music business, but warns that he’s just taken possession of a new Rickenbacker 4001!
Townson, meanwhile, linked up with Martin Gordon, Nice guitarist Davy O’List and yet another John’s Children renegade, Andy Ellison as Jet; the Glam hopefuls who eventually twisted into the punk era heroes Radio Stars – to whom Trevor White eventually gravitated, having departed Sparks at the same time as Hampton. Townson then began playing (again alongside Gordon and Ellison) in the reformed John’s Children.
After the initial CD release of the JOOK collection, plans were formed for the original members to reform and discussions were beginning about the band opening for Sparks on a 21 night series of London engagements. Sadly, at the time the reunion idea was being seriously considered and interest in Jook was peaking – the heart and powerhouse of Jook, Chris “Bomber” Townson, discovered that he would be fighting the biggest battle of his life against cancer for the next five months. In the end, the much-anticipated Jook reunion was never to be as Chris passed away on February 10, 2008.
No matter what else the quartet achieved, however, these recordings nevertheless support the theory that Jook were a few years ahead of their time. The raw power certainly predated punk by three to four years, while Jook’s influence in the years since then has culminated in a growing following.
Certainly they do not deserve to be relegated to the Glitter Bin. Quite unlike the rest of the Glam acts of the day, Jook were a DIFFERENT CLASS altogether!
Jook Rool, O.K.!
Mark A. Johnston
|Album Art ::
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Track Listing ::
A1. Alight With Me
A2. Do What You Can
A3. King Capp
B1. City And Suburban Blues
B2. OO OO Rudi
B3. Jook's On You
B4. Bish Bash Bosh
B5. Crazy Kids
C1. Watch Your Step
C2. La La Girl
C3. Aggravation Place
C4. Everything I Do
D1. Hey Doll
D2. Different Class
D3. Mohair Sam
D4. Movin' In The Right Direction
D5. That's Fine
JOOK Are ::
Ralf Kimmet - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Trevor White - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Ian Hampton - Bass
Chris Townson - Drums
Press Photos :: (click for full size)